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  • ‘Don’t be afraid to give it a go’- Making the career change to technology

    With the technology sector in Northern Ireland booming, there is an ever increasing demand for employees. However, not all of these employees start out in technology and software, with many making a career change from another sector.

    After starting out in physiotherapy Dearbháil Rice decided to make the career change to technology and is now a software developer at PA Consulting, a role she’s been in for nearly two years.

    Dearbháil made the career change after deciding she didn’t see herself in physiotherapy long term. She tells the Sync NI team that after doing technology and design for A level she “missed the technology challenge of developing.”

    Dearbháil initially started her journey into technology through a MSc in software development. However, after the sudden death of her father she switched to completing her project part time over the next year.

    Dearbháil says this left her in an “awkward position” as she “didn’t actually have a degree or background in software but wanted to work in the industry rather than going back to physio for a year.”

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    However, her path changed directions when a friend told her about the career changing academies available with Belfast Met and PA Consulting. Dearbháil says she “jumped at it” and after completing the 9 week software development java academy, she completed a final interview and joined PA Consulting a month later.

    Reflecting on her time at the academy Dearbháil says: “it was taught very differently from my master’s, and I feel I learned a lot from it, from both a technical and soft skills perspective.”

    Although physiotherapy seems like a vastly different career from software development, Dearbháil tells us that there were a number of different skills from her previous job that were helpful in her new role.

    She tells Sync NI: “one of the aspects I loved about physiotherapy was problem solving. How can you get a person to go from not being able to do a task to doing it independently? So that's something I found really transferable from physio, that need and want to problem solve.”

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    Dearbháil also notes that in her new position, she is always “chatting to people and building relationships” as “communication is a massive component in software.” Another aspect that is similar to her previous role.

    Dearbháil says the skills she gained working in a team in her previous position are beneficial in her new role. She comments on the similarities stating: “you have the same common goal and everyone is there to reach that goal together. Nobody is trying to one up each other or anything. It's all about what we can do together to get the end product that we want and get the best result for our clients.”

    Although physiotherapy and software development seem a world apart, Dearbháil says that just like in her previous role, she is still “helping clients and having a positive impact on people's lives, just in a different way.”

    Dearbháil also notes some big advantages from her career change, telling the Sync NI team one of the best things about her new role is: “There’s more freedom to channel your own learning and take your own path with what you want to learn and what you want to do.”

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    In her new role, Dearbháil says she is able to move projects when she wants more exposure to the development side of things and she is able to really make what she wants out of her career.

    Many people that Dearbháil first started out with in PA Consulting went down the security route but that's not something she wanted to do. She wanted to go down a more specific development route and was able to do so. Commenting on this, she tells us: “it’s really great that you have opportunities.”

    Dearbháil also enjoys the different managerial aspects of her role at PA Consulting stating: “There's no real barriers, it’s not as hierarchical as my last job, it's much more comfortable. It’s a lot more friendly and sociable.”

    After completing three different routes into technology (a MSc in software development, an Academy with Belfast Met and PA and a Code First Girls course) Dearbháil says that she's “seen each of the different routes and they all have a lot to offer.”

    She also adds that the career path into technology is flexible and “if you don’t want to go back to uni you absolutely don’t have to, there are so many opportunities at the minute just reach out and grab them.”

    For others who are interested in changing careers in the same way Dearbháil did, her advice is to “take a look around and see what's out there and don’t be afraid to give it a go, you might surprise yourself.”

    To find out more about PA Consulting click here and to see all our latest tech jobs click here.

    About the author

    Aoife is a Sync NI writer with a previous background working in print, online and broadcast media. She has a keen interest in all things tech related. To connect with Aoife feel free to send her an email or connect on LinkedIn.

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